Federal stimulus will help, but not cure, transit budget deficit

A MetroTransit bus in St. Paul
Metropolitan Council chairman Peter Bell says the stimulus bill will be used to buy new equipment.
MPR Photo/Stephanie Hemphill

Federal stimulus money will help address, but won't close, a transit budget deficit in the Twin Cities. The shortfall is due in part to sharp drop off in transit operating money that comes from the sales tax on motor vehicles sold in Minnesota.

Metropolitan Council chairman Peter Bell said some of the $65 million in stimulus money will be used to buy new equipment.

"What we hope to do is use the federal dollars for capital, primarily for the purchase of buses but we may use some of it for park and ride facilities," Bell said. "We have a three-car train program in Hiawatha we want to initiate. We need more vehicles for metro mobility as well, and then the dollars that we have currently allocate for capital will move over to cover that $45 million operating deficit."

Bell said the money may purchase as many as 113 replacement buses, additional cars for both Hiawatha light rail and Northstar Commuter rail as well as park-and-ride expansions at Maplewood Mall or in Woodbury, Maple Grove and Apple Valley.

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